MANILA - Sen. Juan Miguel ‘Migz’ Zubiri has bucked the offer of administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD to be the running mate of its standard-bearer, Defense Secretary Gilbert ‘Gibo’ Teodoro.
“This is the fourth time [that I rejected the offer] already,” he said.
Zubiri reiterated his decision to the ruling party during its executive meeting in Malacañang on Wednesday morning.
He said Lakas-Kampi-CMD officials from the Visayas have been asking him run for the vice-presidency since October.
Zubiri said he is swamped with work in the Senate, as the burden of steering the legislative body to pass the 2010 budget falls on his shoulders.
“I’m the majority floor leader. I cannot abandon my post,” he said.
Moreover, he said he is not ready "emotionally and financially" to run for vice-president.
Zubiri joined three movie-TV celebrities, Senator Ramon 'Bong' Revilla Jr., Edu Manzano, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, who have turned down offers to be the running mate of Teodoro.
Bong to seek re-election
Revilla, whose party mates in Lakas-Kampi-CMD are banking on his capacity to bring votes from Cavite, Rizal and Nueva Ecija, opted to vie for re-election in 2010 instead.
“I’m not prepared,” he told reporters at the Senate.
"Matapos ang serye ng konsultasyon, naniniwala ako, ang aking mga lider sa iba't ibang panig ng bansa at ang aking pamilya na mas epektibo kong mapaglilingkuran ang ating mga kababayan kung ako'y mananatili bilang senador. (After a series of consultations, I believed as wells as leaders in different parts of the country and my family, that I can more effectively serve the country as a senator)," Revilla said in a statement.
He added that his father, former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr., also asked him to seek another term in the Senate instead.
Revilla said he has asked the Lakas-Kampi-CMD to pluck him out of the list of possible running mates of Teodoro.
Zubiri and Revilla were floated as possible vice-presidential candidates of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD after Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno opted not to seek the vice-presidency.
Lakas-Kampi-CMD President Eduardo Ermita earlier said Revilla’s popularity could help Teodoro catch up with the presidential frontrunners, while Zubiri could generate support from Mindanao.
Edu to run for senator under LP
Meanwhile, former Optical Media Board (OMB) chair Edu Manzano is no longer available as running mate of Teodoro.
Manzano is set to join the senatorial ticket of the Liberal Party (LP), which is fielding Senators Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III for president and Manual 'Mar' Roxas II for vice president.
Manzano was scheduled to take his oath as member of the LP on Thursday, but this has been postponed.
On Tuesday, Lakas-Kampi-CMD senior vice-president for membership, former Rep. Prospero Pichay said Revilla and Manzano were among those being eyed by the administration party to become Teodoro's running mate.
Pichay said former Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III is also being considered as Teodoro's running mate.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters on Wednesday that Zubiri was also being considered as vice-presidential candidate of the ruling party.
"When we say we have a deep bench and the fact that geography is a factor, you can deduce that he is one of those being considered," Ermita said.
Ermita also said the Lakas-Kampi-CMD remains the strongest political party with 11, 338 members, representing 63% of all local posts nationwide.
He said Zubiri's name was floated during the party's national executive committee meeting held at Malacañang.
If Zubiri runs for vice-president and loses, he stays as a senator since his term ends in 2013. He placed 12th in the 2007 senatorial elections, but faces a pending electoral protest by opposition senatorial candidate Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III.
Ermita said fielding Zubiri as vice-presidential candidate would address concerns of the national government's neglect of Mindanao.
"We believe if we have someone from there [Mindanao], they would feel that their interests are not forgotten by the national government," he said.
Ermita said whoever the party picks will have a good chance.
Gabriel Claudio, Lakas-Kampi-CMD secretary-general, meanwhile, said the party would still have to consult party members before choosing Teodoro's running mate and the ruling party's senatorial candidates.
"Through consultations, we're probably the only party who goes through deliberate and thorough process on choices for national candidates," Claudio said.
Claudio: Lakas-Kampi just wants to be thorough
Claudio clarified that the delay in the naming of the party's vice-presidential candidate and senatorial ticket was not due to the weak survey standings of Teodoro or the shallow bench for possible candidates within the party.
He reiterated that the party intends to field a full slate, from the national to the local level or a total of around 17,000 candidates.
"If we wanted to be rash about this, we're already in position to name anyone now. Nobody wants to take that liberty. ES (executive secretary) explained the necessity and wisdom in being thorough. We'd like to give the party and electorate the best combination for the 2 top positions. We still have many days from filing. No need to rush," Claudio said.
Claudio was optimistic that Teodoro's ratings will pick up once he resigns from the defense department and starts his presidential campaign. He said Teodoro just did not want to take advantage of his post amid recent natural disasters.
Claudio also said that despite the breakdown of coalition talks with the Nationalist People's Coalition, Teodoro still enjoys the support of his former partymates in the NPC.
He said many NPC local officials are backing Teodoro's presidential bid. "If not institutionally, more certainly at local level. It will be safe for me to lay claim to the fact many NPC members are in fact sympathetic and supportive of the proposition for continued alliance and working coalition with Lakas-Kampi-CMD in relation to the coming elections." -- with reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News